On the big stage

We should count ourselves lucky here, of course. After all, we did get a Monday night game here this season, against the defending world champion Colts, no less. As someone in the stands said (on their sign), “This game is HUGE”.

The Marines were in town, and they were serious.

Very serious.

Very, very serious.

After a lot of warming up, and a badly rendered version of the anthem – why do some of these performers think the anthem needs to be imbued with their own personal touch or vocal hysterics, anyway? – it was time to kick things off here.

I will say here that the Jags started off well: harrying defense, moving the ball fairly well. But the Colts, like the Patriots, are simply playing in an alternate universe from the rest of the football world at the moment, and those moments rushed right by. I was playing a little game, myself, testing the limits of the camera I was using and trying to think like the coaches by determining what play I would call, then following that player and trying to capture an action play.

It isn’t exactly rocket science to know Manning is going to throw a few passes. The trick is catching that pass (so to speak) in the air, as in this one. You can see the ball pass right by the defender’s hand.

Picking Greg Estandia to catch a pass, though, is something else, and not something most people would expect. Pregnant Sister gives Estandia a hard time, incorrectly. I like him (and picked him to make the team when watching the preseason games), and I’m glad he got some touches in this game.

Jack Del Rio was in a suit for MNF. The jacket he was wearing rapidly made an exit.

Another play call by me: Garrard to Northcutt. My sisters kept calling me a geek for some reason.

But I don’t care all that much. It just shows that girls know a thing or two about football, too.

These sorts of pictures also give you a good idea of how the blocking is in creating lanes for passes or running backs.

Fred Taylor.

Greg Estandia.

David Garrard gets some good protection.

“What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?”

Maurice Jones-Drew was open for a checkdown and had some room in front of him, but Garrard threw it down the field.

Northcutt is becoming Garrard’s favorite target.

The problem with this is that other teams know it, too. That, combined with overthrows, leads to interceptions.

The Colts started playing their game. Manning was actually under center for a change.

They were driving to the end zone…

…and Manning took it into the end zone himself on a sneak.

Both Taylor and Jones-Drew had some nice runs…

…but it really turned into a one-way game…

…with some nice plays, like this one by Reggie Wayne.

The Jaguars scored their only touchdown on a Jones-Drew run…

…a call that was upheld on review.

Our mascot showed up to reward a row of seats with boxes of Bubba Burgers. Given the obesity problems in this country, and in this city particularly, an alternative would probably have been in order, but I like a burger every now and again myself, so I suppose I wouldn’t have objected if they’d selected our row. They didn’t. Bummer.

Manning is an intense player.

“Mind if I copy your homework?”

All his gyrations at the line must be old hat to opposing teams by now. Who knows how much of it is really a change of play or total bullshit? Does it matter?

Because he could probably do this with his eyes closed. And sometimes he does.

Tony Dungy is one of the most laid back coaches in history.

Del Rio was sweaty and unhappy as the game started closing down.

Manning watches the play clock tick down and calls for the snap with only a couple of seconds left.

Dallas Clark – a player the Colts need to make sure they keep after this season, along with Bob Sanders – gets the final score of the game.

In the end, another loss for the Jaguars, and they didn’t really put up a huge fight – at least, not as huge as I expected, given the potential meaning of this game. And now, it’s time to go work awhile longer here. And shouldn’t you be working or sleeping or doing something other than reading blogs?

Yes, I’m talking to YOU.


One of the best things about a job like this, working anywhere you damn well please as long as there’s internet access, is that you can make yourself very, very comfortable, grab a coffee or some tea, let one cat curl up on the desk, the other in front of the heater at your feet, have both dogs sleeping under your chair, and flick the tv into life while you try to whittle down a todo list that never seems to get much smaller.

I’m a big fan of B-grade movies, and horror movies are generally pretty good for this sort of thing, since many are low budget and not populated by actors who would rival Laurence Olivier or Katharine Hepburn for any major awards. This is why I dearly love Monster Fest, brought to us by the fine folks at AMC each year around Halloween.

Case – or cases – in point: Puppet Master and Hellraiser.

The former is just plain old schlock where a bunch of psychics apparently can’t see the killer puppets coming. One by one, they’re offed by malevolent stop-motion puppets in a variety of gory ways (although the gore is not explicitly shown, as I expect having to purchase/make that much fake blood would have cut into the budget significantly). When the lead actor is Paul LeMat and the most innovative part of the movie is a camera angle at the height of the puppet, eight or nine inches off the ground, when they slice open someone’s throat or drill a human in the skull because that human forgot the cardinal rule of these movies – do NOT kneel on the floor and look under the bed, because you know damn well there are, in fact, monsters there – well, that’s all bonus for a bad movie junkie.

The latter movie is a delight for anyone who laughed at that scene in Nightmare on Elm Street where the chick is rolling around on the ceiling because she fell asleep and Freddie got her. That would be me. Julia and Larry are an unhappily married couple who move into a new house where the kitchen is filled with rotting flesh, trash, and assorted maggots. In real life, this would probably be a tip that something was wrong, but in the movies, people blithely move themselves in, not caring or knowing about the fact that Larry’s missing brother Frank – with whom Julia had an affair and with whom Julia slept on the day of their wedding – is actually rotting under the floorboards in the attic because he bought a puzzle box off some old dude in a generic desert city, tried to play with it, and got sucked into some other universe where cenobites tortured him in some weird S&M thing that isn’t ever fully explained.


Things get interesting when Larry scratches himself on an exposed nail and, being the sissy he is, runs to Julia to have her fix it. Julia happens to be in the attic where she’s having some out of body experience with old Frank. Larry bleeds all over the floor, and Frank magically starts putting himself back together. This is a way for Frank to put some skin back on his bones and escape the cenobites, get him back with Julia, and have the two of them live happily ever after – except old Frank isn’t looking too hot, and needs Julia to bring more victims to the house so they can be killed and Frank can use their blood and skin and whatnot.

Or something. It’s a standard, really, of bad/evil thing eating/using the flesh and blood of the living.

Larry and his daughter, who don’t seem all that bright about the things going on in their very own house, finally catch on. Larry gets killed by Frank, who then pulls a Hannibal Lecter and skins himself as Larry so when Larry’s daughter runs to him to tell him there’s something really, really wrong with Uncle Frank, he can tell her he’s taken care of it. Got that? Naturally, Larry’s a pile of skinned out flesh on the floor somewhere. The daughter steals the box, opens it while she’s in the crazy person hospital, and makes a deal with the cenobites that will spare her if she gives Frank back to them. Which she does, of course, since someone has to come out of this alive. It’s in the horror film rulebook.

And yes, it’s all as silly and weird and as full of crappy special effects as it sounds, up to and including both the part at the end where the box is on a fiery trash pile, some bum sticks him arm in, picks it up, turns into a dragon-looking thing, then flies off with it and the credits that run by like a squirrel on speed. Sequel City, here we come!

The head-scratching, laughter, and general amusement can all be yours, too – if you’re willing to sit through massively bad films on a regular basis.

Hey, baby

So, my sister is expecting. We found this out last month, but she is such a worrier that she told us to keep it to ourselves until the first sonogram and ultrasound. Sissy.

But we did, and since then have been dealing with all the assorted worrying and griping that goes along with having someone around you who is by nature a little high strung having yet another thing to occupy their worry gene. Given that my sister is truly a beautiful young lady, no doubt the baby will be gorgeous. Everyone is quite excited about the little one who will be joining us sometime in March.

Our first problem is one of food: my sister has not been eating right, well, or enough. Last week, she told my mom that just opening her fridge and smelling the food was making her queasy. The result of this is that she is not eating the way she should be.

The solution to this: have someone like me make a couple of huge batches of tasty, nutritious food, and have my other sister take it over. As an added bonus, some of my other sister’s friends got to share in the bounty and received their own care packages.

Enough of the background chatter, says my Gentle Reader. Just tell us what you made and give us pictures.

First up was one large batch of chicken and rice. Generally, I make this for us and the dogs get to enjoy some as well, but Pregnant Sister is a little weirded out by “dog food”. I sent some over anyway.

The main attraction, though, was stuffed shells, one of my sister’s favorites, and another homemade batch of focaccia.

The dough has to be started first. Even though it’s a single-day dough, it still takes a few hours from start to finish. The dough at rest after the first stretch and fold.

Then it’s time to start the sauce, so it can simmer while the shells are being made.

The fam is known to stand at the stove and dip whatever is handy into the sauce and eat it.

Oh, and did I mention that I made a couple of loaves of cinnamon-raisin bread?

And some roasted butternut squash dip, destined for the Thanksgiving menu?

This is some great stuff, I must say. Very simple to make, and quite healthy, too.

I know – get back the point, already.

The mixture for the “stuffed” part of the stuffed shells.

A mixture of cheeses and spinach.


Sauced and cheesed.

Mmm. Cheese.

In the meantime, the focaccia dough has been stretched and rested again, then panned for proofing. After the final proof, the toppings: one half with warm herb oil and cheese, the other half with caramelized onions, gorgonzola, and cherry tomatoes.

Are you hungry yet?

Shells are baked and ready for chowing.

And so is the focaccia.

Bread porn.

The shells and this bread were divided into portions for Pregnant Sister, her boyfriend, and my other sister’s friends.

I do believe I could make a fresh focaccia every day and people would gladly make sure there were no leftovers. What is it about bread that calls to us?

I can’t say I know the answer to that, but I can say that I do enjoy baking it. Like this biga for Italian bread that I made last night.

The final product from that starter dough is another entry…